Recast Roles In Film And TV You Didn’t Know Happened

With modern filmmaking stuck in “reboot” mode, it’s easy to forget that franchises used to have to recast roles. Controversial recasting happened for many reasons. Sometimes an actor got into legal trouble, but his character was too popular to “kill off.” Other time fans liked the character but hated the actor in the role.

Recasting was such a common practice at one point that audiences never batted an eye. Here is the best “blink, and you’ll miss it” of Hollywood recasting. You’ll never guess how many actresses played Catwoman in the ’60s!

The Two Darrins From Bewitched Started It All

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Photo Credit: ABC

Dick York played Darrin on Bewitched for five seasons before leaving the show for medical reasons. An old back injury forced the studio to recast the role with Dick Sargent for the sixth season.

The show peaked with 31 million viewers a week with York. When Sargent took over the numbers plummeted to 11 million. Sargent played Darrin for three seasons before Bewitched ended its run. One of the first major roles to ever be recast, the phenomenon became commonplace.

Roseanne Has A Becky Problem

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Photo Credit: ABC

When Roseanne premiered in 1988, the role of Becky Connor was played by Lecy Goranson. Goranson left the show after five seasons to go to college. Sarah Chalke was recast in the role and debuted in season six.

The strange story of Becky doesn’t end there, though. The show’s writers used the recasting as a running gag. When Goranson returned to the role in the eighth season, the characters kept asking her where she had been. When Roseanne returned to ABC in 2018 Goranson again played Becky, and Chalke was cast in another role as fan service to the audience. Coming up, find out why Dumbledore had to be recast in Harry Potter.

Dumbledore Lives

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

Played iconically by Richard Harris in the first two Harry Potter films, the role of Albus Dumbledore had to be recast for The Prisoner of Azkaban. After the second film, Harris passed away. He had been suffering from Hodgkins Disease and tragically lost the battle.

Michael Gambon stepped into the role and was embraced by grieving fans. For the next six films, Gambon made the role his own. Once the franchise ended, Warner Brothers decided a prequel series was in order. In 2018, fans will be treated to a younger take on the character from Jude Law.

The Two-Face Dilemma

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

When Batman broke theatrical records in 1989, the role of Harvey Dent was played by Billy Dee Williams. The actor took what amounted to a cameo in the film for the chance to play Two-Face in possible sequels. Two-Face ended up being the main villain in Batman Forever, but Williams was not chosen for the role.

With a new director headlining the franchise, Harvey Dent was played by Tommy Lee Jones. Jones’ frantic take on the role was more Joker than Two-Face, but the film rejuvenated the ailing franchise. Maybe if Williams had pushed to be more than a cameo in 1989, he would have been harder to replace in 1995. Up next, learn how many actresses played Catwomen in the ’60s!

Batman And The Strange Case Of The Catwomen

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Photo Credit: ABC

In 1966, Batman premiered on ABC with a bizarre and campy take on the caped crusader. For three years (and a movie), Catwoman was one of the main villains. The problem was the show refused to let any actress make the role their own. Lee Merriweather was the first Catwoman, followed by Julie Newmar, then Eartha Kitt.

Moving from Merriweather to Newmar made sense. A movie was shot with Merriweather before the show debuted. Newmar was recast for the television show. Two years later Eartha Kitt became Catwoman. The odd thing was that Newman continued to make guest appearances on the show as other characters!

The Fresh Prince Gets A New Aunt Viv

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Photo Credit: NBC

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air brought Will Smith into the limelight. The show ran for six seasons from 1990 until 1996. Three seasons into its run the show had a major cast shake-up, firing the actress who played Aunt Viv; Janet Hubert-Whitten. Her and Smith reportedly didn’t get along behind the scenes, so she got the ax.

Daphne Maxwell Reid replaced Hubert-Whitten at the start of season four. With the new casting, the character made some peculiar changes of her own. After three seasons as an outspoken and educated career-woman, Aunt Viv was turned into a stay at home mom with limited screen time.

Kitty Pryde Is X-Men’s Catwoman

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Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Ellen Page is known for playing Kitty Pryde in X-Men: The Last Stand. We bet you didn’t realize she didn’t originate the role, though! In the first two films, Kitty Pryde makes cameos as a student at Professor X’s School For Gifted Students.

In X-Men, Pryde is played by Sumela Kay who gets flustered and runs through a wall to avoid being late to class. In X2: X-Men United, Katie Start takes over the role and is featured falling through floors to escape attackers at the school. Page took over for the third movie when it was determined Kitty Pryde would become a featured mutant.

Laurie Gets A Makeover On That ’70s Show

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Photo Credit: FOX

That ’70s Show replaced Lisa Robin Kelly with Christina Moore after two seasons. Both actresses played Laurie, the older sister of Eric. Lisa Robin Kelly left the show for mysterious reasons. Rumors spread that she was battling addiction, but nothing has ever been confirmed.

For the next four seasons, Laurie disappeared from the show. Moore was finally cast to replace Kelly for the sixth season and most fans didn’t notice the change. Two seasons later Topher Grace left the show and there was talk of recasting him, but that never happened. Next, the answer to how many times the Griswold children have been recast!

The Griswold Kids Go Through Changes

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

When National Lampoon’s Vacation became a massive hit in 1981, sequels were logical. The actors weren’t signed for multiple movies, though, so casting changes resulted. European Vacation arrived in 1985, but Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall didn’t come with it. They were replaced with Dana Hill and Jason Lively.

In 1989, Christmas Vacation again recast the children. Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki became the third iteration of the Griswold children. Eight years later Vegas Vacation came and went with Marisol Nichols and Ethan Embree. That was exhausting!

Clarice Starling Goes From One Award Winning Actress To Another

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Photo Credit: Orion/MGM

Jodie Foster played Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs in 1991. The movie won Best Picture at the Academy Awards while Foster took home the Best Actress trophy. Being the fourth highest grossing film of the year, the studio jumped at the chance to make the sequel; Hannibal.

Foster refused to return, however, saying the new movie was going to be too gruesome. The producer claimed he fired her for demanding $20 million. Whatever the reason was, Julianne Moore was recast as Clarice Starling and Hannibal in 2001. In 2015, she won an Academy Award for her performance in Still Alice. It was her fourth career nomination.

Mark Ruffalo Wasn’t Marvel’s First Hulk

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Photo Credit: Marvel/Disney

Mark Ruffalo played the Hulk for the first time in The Avengers. Interestingly, he was not the first actor to play Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Edward Norton played Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk. The long forgotten film from 2008 was the second film released in the MCU.

Norton was likable enough in the roll, but reportedly wanted too much creative control behind the scenes. Marvel balked at his desires, and the Hulk went dormant until Joss Whedon cast Mark Ruffalo in 2012. Our next cast mix-up brought Marvel’s first choice for a Thor character in for the sequel!

Zachary Levi Was Marvel’s First Choice For Fandral

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Photo Credit: Marvel/Disney

When Marvel made Thor in 2011, they wanted to cast Zachary Levi as Fandral, an Asgardian warrior. At the time Levi was committed to the show Chuck on NBC and couldn’t do it. Marvel then chose Josh Dallas for the role. Dallas signed on to the ABC show Once Upon A Time and couldn’t return for Thor: The Dark World.

Chuck was canceled in 2012 and Levi was able to take his rightful place as Fandral. His time in the role didn’t last long, and he fell victim to Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. Levi isn’t leaving the superhero game, although he is leaving Marvel. He recently signed on to play Shazaam in the DC extended universe.

The Mummy Franchise Does More Than Recast Evy

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Photo Credit: Universal

In The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, Rachel Weisz played Evy. She was tough and could stand her own in a fight. She was so strong she even had featured fight scenes in both films. When the franchise returned with Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2008, Maria Bello took over the role, and Evy was never the same.

Bello was forced to play Evy as an over-protective and always frightened mother. She was no longer book smart and independent. The film flopped, ending the franchise. In 2017, Universal tried to revive the franchise with Tom Cruise. The reboot was supposed to start a “Dark Universe,” but the film ended up losing the studio $95 million.

Spartacus Is Given New Blood

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Photo Credit: Starz

In a tragic bit of recasting, Spartacus was forced to recast the title role after Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer. Starz produced a prequel season while Whitfield fought, but after an extended absence gave the network his blessing to recast the role.

Whitfield passed away in 2011, and the torch of Spartacus was passed to Liam McIntyre. The show ran for two more seasons with McIntyre before it became too expensive for Starz to produce. Just around the bend, the truth behind the Mountain from Game of Thrones!

The Three Mountains Of Game Of Thrones

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Photo Credit: HBO

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on television. It’s also the most recent example of a role being recast. The Mountain is known by fans of the series as Hafthor Bjornsson. Many of those same fans probably don’t remember Bjornsson didn’t originate the role.

In the first season of Game of Thrones, Conan Steven played the physically imposing character. Ian Whyte took the mantle in the second season but something just wasn’t right. Bjornsson took over starting season three and has turned The Mountain into one of the series most memorable characters.

Rachel Dawes Transforms Between Batman Films

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

In 2005, Batman Begins breathed new life into the stagnant film franchise and cast Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. Playing Bruce Wayne’s love interest, fans made it known Holmes was their least favorite part of the film. The studio went back to the drawing board for The Dark Knight and brought in Maggie Gyllenhaal to assume the role.

Gyllenhaal brought more brevity to the role than Holmes, which made the characters death feel more devastating. With free time on her hands, Holmes starred in Mad Money, a film about Federal Reserve employees plotting to steal money from their employer.

Arrested Development Reinvents Ann

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Photo Credit: FOX

Ann Veal was George Michael’s first love interest on Arrested Development. Originally played by Alessandra Torresani, the character wasn’t memorable. The joke of her character is that George Michael’s family forgets she exists. After season one Toressani left the series, and Mae Whitman became Ann Veal.

Oddly enough, Ann Veal was never supposed to be played by one actress. Mitch Hurwitz, the show’s creator, wanted to play on the idea that she was boring by having a different actress play her in every episode. Up next, the big cast changesBack to the Future made between parts one and two.

Marty McFly Gets A New Girlfriend

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Photo Credit: Universal

Back to the Future pulled a fast one over on audience’s when the franchise recast Marty McFly’s girlfriend between movies. Claudia Wells played Jennifer Parker in the first movie. She chose not to return for the sequel so she could take care of her sick mother.

Elisabeth Shue was quickly recast in the role and played Parker in the final two films. Like so many stories before this, it turns out Claudia Wells wasn’t the original Jennifer Parker. Melora Hardin was filming scenes when Eric Stoltz was fired and Michael J. Fox took over the lead role. Hardin was fired at the same time, and Wells landed the role.

Emperor Palpatine Changes Faces In Star Wars

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Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

Ian McDiarmid is known worldwide as evil Emperor Palpatine in Star Wars. He first played the role in Return of the Jedi. Emperor Palpatine, however, made his first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back. Looking back now, you would never know. George Lucas has since had McDiarmid digitally inserted into Empire Strikes Back for reasons only he knows.

It’s also surprising to know that McDiarmid was 39-years-old when he shot Return of the Jedi. This allowed him to return to the role when George Lucas made The Phantom Menace, The Clone Wars, and Revenge of the Sith!

Corey’s Little Sister Grows Up On Boy Meets World

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Photo Credit: ABC

Boy Meets World went through a major casting shakeup after the second season. Looking to add Corey Matthews sister into more storylines, producers dropped first actress Lily Nicksay and hired Lindsay Ridgeway to play Morgan. Morgan was absent from the show for the first half of season three before reappearing a few years older.

The show tried to play the switch-up off as a joke, with Morgan saying she had just been in her room a long time. Audiences didn’t buy it. Ridgeway finished out the series as Morgan but wasn’t asked to return when Girl Meets World joined the Disney Channel lineup. Surprisingly, Nicksay did return as Morgan in a special guest appearance for the season three finale.